For the first time in my studies at UWA I purchased a ticket to an EMAS event: EMAS Miami Vibes. The ticket purchase was a little painful. Admittedly, it was a final release ticket – minus $41 thank you (and I won’t say how I scavenged for such a sum with no job). Still, I’m yet to reconcile the experience with the dosh.
My first impressions were blurred and double-visioned, and not for reasons you might expect. One of my contact lenses had split in half, and remained lodged in my eye throughout the night. But what most, I imagine, would find annoying and uncomfortable, I forced myself to take as a blurry, distorted aesthetic, suggestive of a lurid night out.
I arrived (with friends) at 8.30. Too early. But I got a good (though blurry) look at the layout and topography of the event. It’s restricted to Oak Lawn – shouldered by a car park, Guild Village, and the staid, sandy walls of Social Science and Law. There’s the main stage; big and boastful with a ‘Vibes’ sign of alternating colours. Over to the right is the bar with a limited selection of beers, ciders, and mixers; each requiring a token purchased at another stand before you can obtain the drink. Rather than figuring the system and buying multiple tokens at one time, I took to buying a single token each time I wanted a drink. Girl at token stand upon my second purchase: “you only want one token?” Her tone incredulous and pitying.
In the Ref courtyard, to the far right of the bar, was the silent disco. I didn’t go here. My company wasn’t keen on it. Also, the line was too long to justify the little curiosity I had. Plus, I dislike headphones, most of which are too small for my head. They could have done with another silent disco, perhaps in the Law courtyard on the adjacent side, but frankly I, probably representing a sizeable demographic, don’t care for silent discos so the effect wasn’t too great. Sprung between these zones was space for head and hip rest, with a ‘Chill out’ area near the toilets. Here, food vans and dishevelled bean begs dominated. Here people lolled about, chatting and fondling.
The music met expectations. Electronic music, duh. At times poppy and teeny, a smorgasbord of remixed top 40 of the last five years, punctured with the heavy, droning thud that ate at something inside me. There wasn’t much to tell the different DJ acts apart, but then again, how far can you stray before things become un-EMAS-y? I took to watching those individuals who appeared as if they’d left the silent disco with headphones intact – their bodies were transfixed, caught by the music – they were not here just for student-priced drinks and the furtive glances at their friend’s friend – they were passionate about electronic music.
I ended up standing near a tree I’ve sat near often during the day, usually tearing through a stale sandwich or frantically reading book plot summaries. The whole area wasn’t themed as Miami, – there were no beach tops or palmy décor around. Everyone wore their casual night-out clothes suitable for the weather. I opted for almost all black and was happy with my choice. At previous uni events my dress code has stubbornly been of the shirt and sweater variety, giving me that prim, schoolteacher look. I was dead set on avoiding it this time.
It was mindless and escapist, giving reliable transport from a week tarnished by study, personal frustrations, and that over-priced pasta dish at Reid café. All in all, my impressions of Miami Vibes were unremarkable, and not of the 41 dollar kind. Yet I’ll admit, if you’d bought first release on membership ($15), taken the train in, started off with five tokens (ideally purchased at the one time), and had reliable vision throughout the course of the night – you’d be bound to enjoy yourself. On some level.
Words by Ryan Suckling, Art by Harry Peter Sanderson